Two years ago, Jared Morris of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was not only running Shake N Bake, his new Sunsation Boats 36 Dominator XRT with Mercury Racing HP700SCi engines, at events across the country, he was a large part of Sunsation’s marketing efforts at events such as the Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri.
The stunning 36-foot V-bottom won its class at the 2011 Shootout and was featured on the cover of Powerboat magazine. Obviously Morris loved the boat, which was his step up from the 2008 Baja Marine 35 Outlaw he owned before buying the Sunsation. Morris owned three prior Baja models—a 29-, 30- and 33-footer.
Today, Morris is more than just another Sunsation customer or family member, as brothers Wayne and Joe Schaldenbrand like to say. That’s because he is now an owner in the company with the Schaldenbrands.
“Jared helped us along with some things here at the shop, including the development of the 34 CCX [Center Cabin Xtreme],” said Wayne Schaldenbrand, who admits Sunsation had been hesitant to take on a partner before Morris expressed interest. “He’s coming from the right angle and he’s very refreshing. He has good ideas and always wants to make sure Sunsation is moving in the right direction. He’s much more than just a business partner.”
Morris said he knew Wayne and Joe were “good people” right from the start.
“I had been looking to sell my Baja and move into a 39 Top Gun from Cigarette Racing until Jeff [Becker] of Hawkeye Boat Sales in Dubuque [Iowa], told me that Sunsation had a 36-footer I should check out,” Morris said. “I wasn’t as familiar with Sunsation, but I told Jeff that if I were to consider a Sunsation I had to ride in one first, even if it wasn’t the exact motor package I’d be getting.”
Morris continued, “Jeff and I flew to Michigan and toured the factory on a Saturday and they took me out in a 36 with a pair of [Mercury Racing] 525s. The boat was great, but I was really impressed with Sunsation’s customer service. I left with Joe and Wayne’s cell phone numbers and they told me to call anytime. A couple of weeks later I told Jeff, ‘All right let’s do it,’ and I kid you not, Wayne called me five minutes later to personally thank me—I thought that was pretty neat.”
From there, the Schaldenbrands remained in contact with Morris throughout the build process, sharing ideas and working side-by-side to create the boat, which turned out to be the most custom one to ever leave the Algonac, Mich., shop.
“My wife and I took delivery of the boat at the Desert Storm Poker Run where Wayne met me personally,” Morris said. “As a lifelong boater, to have Bob Teague test drive the boat was another defining moment. Wayne and I stayed in touch and a friendship developed. He would send graphics of boats he was building and ask my opinion. He values my experience and thoughts about what will sell and what people want in a boat.”
That experience comes from being a “regular” boater—one who has been boating with his family for most of his life. Morris bought his first boat a couple of years out of high school and traded up every three years. In 2008, he and his wife, Heather, were married at Porto Cima on Lake of the Ozarks and left the wedding in their boat. Today they have a 3-year-old daughter named Hayley.
Nearly 15 years after buying his first boat, Morris took the Tres Martin’s Performance Boat School, which he claims changed his perspective on boating. “Tres really taught me a lot about respecting the water and my boat,” he said. “I also learned a lot about boat setup, driving in a poker run, the importance of wearing life jackets and so much more.”
Although he’s far from animated, it’s easy to tell Morris is excited about what’s in store for Sunsation. And why not? It’s a far cry from his day job in construction excavation at JPM Enterprises, a three-generation family business owned by his father, Jon, and mother, Peg.
“I’m lucky to be in business with my father and have the luxury to have the free time to get away and attend events,” Morris said. “I’m planning to take some time off this winter when construction slows down to spend a couple of weeks at the factory working with the guys and learning more about the boat-building process.”
Around that time, Sunsation should be starting work on its 28- or 29-foot center console model—the exact length has yet to be determined—and Morris wants to be as involved as possible with the build process. But most of all, Morris is thrilled to be on a team with Wayne and Joe Schaldenbrand.
“They’re the type of people that when they say they’re going to do something, they do it,” Morris concluded. “That’s how I am and those are the people I want to associate with.”
Morris and the rest of the Sunsation crew will have their new demo model, a triple-engine 34 CCX, on display at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout next week.
Photos courtesy Sunsation Boats and Jared Morris
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com, and writes for Sportboat and Powerboating in Paradise magazines.